A commemorative ceremony and historical reunion honoring the Centaur
stage booster, “Celebrating Centaur: Then and Now,” will take place
from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 25, at the Lockheed Martin
Atlas Spaceflight Operations Center on Cape Canaveral Air Force

More than 150 personnel who worked on the Centaur program over a span
of more than 40 years will be on hand to reminisce about their
participation in the program’s storied history. They also will hear a
bevy of space industry leaders discuss the rocket’s past, present and
future legacy.

The Centaur high-energy upper stage has been used for 128 missions for
NASA, in addition to its history of commercial and U.S. Air Force
missions launched aboard the Atlas and Titan.

Ceremony participants include Jim Kennedy, director of the Kennedy
Space Center; U.S. Air Force Brig. Gen. (Select) Mark Owen, commander
of the 45th Space Wing; and Steve Francois, director of NASA’s Launch
Services Program Office.

Other guest speakers include Jim Sponnick, Lockheed Martin Atlas
Program vice president; Adriane Laffitte, director of Atlas Programs
at Cape Canaveral; and Dr. Virginia P. Dawson, co-author of “Taming
Liquid Hydrogen: The Centaur Upper Stage Rocket 1958-2002.”

Media may attend a series of tours and a barbecue lunch following the
ceremony. Tours include the Atlas Space Operations Center and the
blockhouse at Launch Complex 36, the birthplace of the Centaur launch
program, with access to Pad 39-B. At this location, or at other
locations if desired, members of the press will have an opportunity
to interview launch team members from throughout the Centaur’s

Tours also include the Launch Complex 41 facilities where the history
of the Centaur continues, and NASA’s Mission Directors Center, from
where all of the Agency’s Centaur launch countdowns were directed and
NASA launches continue to be managed today.

Media who wish to attend must be at the KSC Press Site at 9 a.m. for
transportation to the Atlas Spaceflight Operations Center.
Transportation back to the KSC Press Site will be available at
various times during the day’s activities.

The Centaur, developed by NASA and originally manufactured by General
Dynamics, had its first successful launch on Nov. 27, 1963, atop an
Atlas booster from 36-A. With only a single exception, every NASA
spacecraft bound for the outer planets has been launched using a

The Centaur legacy will continue this year with the launch of the Mars
Reconnaissance Orbiter, and in 2006, with the launch of Pluto New
Horizons to the outermost planet in the Solar System.

For information, call the KSC News Center at 321/867-2468.